Our political leaders must learn to give a little to get a little

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What is a Maine voice? Many old-timers would argue that the humor of Marshall Dodge and Bobby Bryan captured that voice better than anyone. And then there’s the TV ad: “Reny’s, a Maine advenchuh!”

It is becoming harder and harder to hear that old-time, authentic voice. Is it because we have been invaded by outliers, in particular by folks from Massachusetts?

No, I think not. It has nothing to do with the sound of the voice. I point the finger at Washington, our nation’s capital. When was the last time you heard an authentic voice coming out of there? How can we find authenticity in the voice when there is none in the words and the actions?

Ayah! An authentic voice depends not on the local sound, but on the intent of the words. So, please, Washington, D.C., and state capitals, stop speaking a language that can be understood only by people who agree with you. Start learning another language – that of reconciliation, and even compromise. That is authenticity.

“Compromise” is a dirty word these days, but its Latin origins are not at all so. It originally meant “to send forth together” or “to promise together.” The key part of the word is the prefix, which means “together.” Yes, together.

So, my hope is that the Democrats and the Republicans might compromise more. How terrific it would be if the two parties might really start working together rather than demonizing the other. How great if this country could elect politicians who would be willing to give a little in order to get a little. Maybe then “compromise” might become a lovable word.

I understand that it is difficult to stand alone in Washington. It is a challenge to be truly independent, not to have the resources and power of one of the two major parties supporting you. Along with those resources, however, comes baggage. Both Republicans and Democrats sadly have to pay attention to the extremists of their respective parties.

I remember when moderates like Amo Houghton and John McCain were both respected and powerful voices in the Republican Party. They voted in America’s best interest, not necessarily their party’s. Today, authenticity and a true love of America, all of America, the rich and the poor, the Black and the white, the pro-business and the pro-labor, all and more, seem to be absent from our national dialogue. We seem to be looking out only for our own interests. If we don’t, we are told by the donors and special interests supporting us that we will not be re-elected.

I am not naive enough to think that a middle ground can be found on all issues. America, however, needs to find more middle ground. If we do not, our democracy will not be able to survive. Demagogues will be in charge of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Washington, find ways to work together. Your country will thank you if you do. And America will once again be the envy of the free and not-so-free worlds.


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